The Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago kept up its tradition of participating in the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade held Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, on State Street in the heart of downtown Chicago.

About 5,000 performers, with floats, balloons and marching bands, traveled north from Congress to Randolph for three hours. Highlights included Chicago Rapper Twista, Miss Illinois 2017 Abby Foster, Chef Graham Elliot, the Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk, the Harlem Globetrotters and a very special visitor from the North Pole, Santa, who shared words of wisdom about how to be on the nice list. Ronald McDonald was the Grand Marshal this year.

"Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago has been participating in this parade since 2005. It gives our community great exposure in the mainstream, and it shows our commitment to celebrate American festivals, in solidarity with the American people," said Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago President Sukhmel Singh Atwal.

"The theme of the Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago's float and its contingent was an Indian Maharaja wedding procession (Baraat), which included the bride and the groom in traditional Punjabi wedding outfits, the baraatis in festive ethnic costumes, Punjabi Dhol (drum), amplified Bhangra music and dancing on the street interacting with spectators, all in the spirit of celebration," said Rajinder Singh Mago, Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago Board of Governors and coordinator of the Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago's participation in the parade.

Kevin Atwal and Ajay Randhawa played the Bhangra Dhol drum. Punjabi Bhangra dancers from UOC Bhangra team entertained the crowds. Bhangra music blasting from the float made the cheering crowd clap and tap their feet to the beat. Mona and Manjeet Bhalla played the bride and the groom in their wedding outfits.

The Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago participation was organized by Sukhmel Singh Atwal, Manjeet Singh Bhalla, Bikram Singh Chohan, Balwinder Singh Girn, and Rajinder Singh Mago with the help of many youth volunteers, including Kevin Atwal, Sandeep Singh, Gurpreet Singh Girn, Mona Bhalla, Manpreet Kaur Bhalla, Simran Kaur Bhalla, Harpreet Singh Vohra and Rashpal Singh DJ.

Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago's next event is the annual New Year's Eve Langar in Palatine.

Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago is an all volunteer nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization promoting education, good citizenship, community development, civic commitment and involvement, and preserving Punjabi culture, language, sports and performing arts among its community members and also mainstream Americans in the Midwest and beyond. Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago caters to this need both by directly organizing events that bring community members together from all over the Midwest region, and by facilitating participation of its community members in mainstream activities.

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